ESSEX JUNTO, The (IN U. S. HISTORY)About 1781 this name was first applied by John Hancock to a group of leaders who were either residents of Essex county, Massachusetts, or were closely connected with it by ties of business or relationship. The great interests of the county were commercial, and the "Essex junto" was the personification of the commercial interest's desire for a stronger federal government. The ability and the ultraism of the junto made its members peculiarly objectionable to the conservatives and anti-federalists of the state, but the name temporarily died out after the successful establishment of the constitution.
—Upon the first development of the federal party the Essex junto naturally fell into it, and ranked as the most ultra of the federalists. They counted among their number such state leaders as Cabot, the Lowells, Pickering. Theophilus Parsons, Stephen Higginson, and Goodhue; and Fisher Ames, a federalist of national reputation was in warm sympathy with them until his retirement from politics. So long as the federal party was controlled by Washington and Hamilton, the junto's influence in it was very considerable; but when Adams succeeded Washington, its members followed Hamilton rather than the president. (See FEDERAL PARTY.) In his own state the president at once revived the old name of "Essex junto," threw upon its members most of the responsibility for the attempt to force a war upon France in 1798-9, and thus gave them a national notoriety as a "British faction," unworthy of recognition as an American party (See ADAMS, JOHN.) After his retirement from office, in 1801, President Adams was very steadily engaged, for about seven years, in newspaper warfare against the junto and its open or secret allies inhis own state—The beginning of the "restrictive system," and of the New England opposition to it (see EMBARGO), deprived the name almost entirely of its local limitation and made it a synonym for New England federalism. Throughout the rest of the Union, which was almost entirely republican in polities, it became convenient to attribute all the difficulties, in New England, the resistance to the embargo, the alleged intention to secede in 1808, the open councils and suspected designs of the Hartford convention, and the stubborn opposition to the war, to the vague spirit of evil inherent in the "Essex junto" (See CONVENTION, HARTFORD; SECESSION, EMBARGO; FEDERAL PARTY.) See 4 Hildreth's United States, 375, and 5:52, 81, 119:1 Schouler's United States. 469; Lodge's Life of Cabot. 17:4 Jefferson's Works (edit. 1829, letters of April 20. 1812. and Jan. 13. 1813), 172. 184:1 John Adams' Works, 286, and 9:618.